Saudi Aramco’s Ajyal Community Development Project is First in Middle East to Earn Envision Award for Sustainable Infrastructure
Saudi Aramco’s Ajyal Community of Excellence project located in South Dhahran, Saudi Arabia is the first infrastructure project in the Middle East to earn an Envision award for sustainable infrastructure. This project is the recent recipient of the Envision Silver award—an award that signifies the project delivers a range of environmental, social, and economic benefits to the host and affected communities.
The Ajyal Community of Excellence project, known locally as the South Dhahran Home Ownership Program, includes site planning, selection, preparation, environmental monitoring; and design and construction of the infrastructure for the new Ajyal community. In support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision and Quality of Life Program, the project earned an outstanding 102 out of 124 applicable points in the Envision Quality of Life Category!
The overall goals of the Ajyal Community Development project include:
Saudi Aramco worked in close collaboration with Nesma & Partners, HOK and IBI to deliver this award-winning sustainable project.
“I am delighted that the Ajyal Community Development project is the first project in the Middle East to earn an Envision award for sustainable infrastructure,” said Melissa Peneycad, ISI’s Managing Director. “This project clearly demonstrates Saudi Aramco’s commitment to meeting the needs of its employees and their families and is a best practice example of genuine sustainable development in the region. ISI hopes the success of this project will spur other projects in the region to pursue environmentally sustainable, people-centric outcomes. Congratulations to the entire project team on earning an Envision Silver award.”
The Envision sustainable infrastructure framework and rating system assesses sustainability in five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Natural World, Resource Allocation, and Climate and Resilience. Collectively, these categories contribute to positive social, economic and environmental impacts on a community during the planning, design and construction of infrastructure projects. Project features that led to the Ajyal Community Development project earning an Envision Silver award include:
Developing local skills and capabilities
The project team implemented a strong local hiring and training development effort which included setting a 19% local employment requirement and establishing a formal education plan for each category of worker hired during construction. A signed agreement between Saudi Aramco and two contractors led to the creation of a local training center with a set goal of training 1,800 young Saudis.
As a new master planned community, ease of movement throughout the site was a key focus in the community’s Sustainable Planning Guide and Transportation Plan. Most homes within the community are located within a 10-minute walking distance to amenities, such as parks, kindergartens, mosques, and bus stops. Vehicle-sharing facilities and the transit network are aligned with bus and commuter routes, as well as centralized retail, office, and recreational facilities. Sidewalks and sikkas (pedestrian paths between villas) provide pedestrian access along streets and between residential lots to minimize walking distances.
Based in an extreme desert environment, the wastewater system has been designed to reduce reliance on potable water for irrigation by utilizing greywater. In addition, the storm water system will recharge groundwater by infiltration. The main source of potable water is seawater from the Arabian Gulf. The new potable water system is integrated with an existing desalination plant. The potable water system is also outfitted with a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system that includes real-time water quality and pipe leakage monitoring.